In the last blog post, we examined some of the negative influences of Christianity in Africa. We should now turn our attention to some of the negative influences of Islam in Africa, of which there are many.
Black Muslim apologists often contend that, unlike Christianity, Islam teaches its adherents to defend themselves against violent attacks. These apologists point to Muslims that fought against slavery and other forms of oppression throughout history.
However, like Christianity, Islam is not "all good." North Sudan offers the best example of how extremist Muslims have harmed African people, identity, and culture. Though many people in North Sudan physically resemble Black people, they identify as Arabs, embracing the Arabic language, Arab dress, culture, etc. They have long oppressed the Black Sudanese of the South, literally enslaving many of them and killing many others. The mainstream media have given much attention to the plight of people in Darfur.
However, much less attention has been given to the Black people of the Nuba Mountains, who have also been victims of genocidal attacks in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The government of Sudan denied them the right to vote, laid waste to their farms and villages and starved them.
This hatred against Black Africans in Sudan has been aided and abetted by the likes of the late Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden was a racist, and like many of the Muslims in Sudan, he used the word "abd," or "slave," when referring to a Black person.
Sadly, many African Americans willingly ignored the plight of the Blacks of South Sudan and/or sided with the oppressors in Khartoum. Indeed, in the 1990s, leaders in Khartoum invited members of the Black press on a supposed "fact-finding mission," on which the government carefully controlled their every move. Most of the Black journalists bought it hook, line and sinker, and did not even report on what little they were permitted to see.
Nigeria also offers a great example of the negative aspects of Islam in Africa. In the 1990s, dictator Sani Abacha ruled the nation with an iron fist. He was opposed by Ken Saro-Wiwa, leader of the Ogoni people. The Ogoni were fighting for land rights and against exploitation by wealthy oil companies.
Abacha sided with the oil companies and had Saro-Wiwa and about seven other Ogoni activists arrested on trumped up charges. They were eventually hanged amid a vast international outcry. However, Louis Farrakhan, a friend of Abacha, said that, considering that so many African Americans had been lynched in the U.S. during the 20th century, Americans should not express outrage about the hangings of a few Africans.
Muslims and Christians are constantly at war in Nigeria. Thousands have been killed in recent years. The south is predominantly Christian. In the predominantly Muslim north, there are 12 states under sharia law. This is despite the fact that Nigeria is a secular country with a secular constitution.
In Nigerian sharia states, amputations and death by stoning are permissable (though there have been no deaths by stoning to date). In September 2011, two men, Auwala Abubaka, 23, and Lawalli Musa, 22, were sentenced to be amputated in public, after pleading guilty to stealing a bull. In previous years, an illiterate woman found guilty of "adultery" was sentenced to death by stoning. (Due to international outrage, the woman was spared. In sharia courts, "adultery" oftentimes is, in actuality, fornication.)
Islam in Africa does not have to lead to conflict, oppression, or sharia. For example, Senegal is a predominantly Muslim nation. However, Christians and Muslims there get along very well. Such good relations were cemented by secular values promoted by Senegalese intellectuals with a firm foundation in French secular culture.
Like their reactionary Christian counterparts, reactionary Muslims are thoroughly homophobic. People having sex with members of the same sex can be put to death under sharia law in Nigeria. In African nations such as Malawi and Nigeria, reactionary Muslims and Christians are united in attempting to strengthen laws against homosexuality.
Christianity and Islam will continue to have great influence in Africa. Indeed, the Catholic Church has become dependent upon Africa to make up for the shortage of priests in the West. Africans in the Anglican Church are becoming increasingly infuential. It is up to secularists and progressive religionists to constantly battle against the negative and reactionary influences of religion wherever they rear their ugly heads. However, forward-thinking Africans must have the chief leadership roles in efforts to combat these insisdious and invidious ideas and actions on the African continent.